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O-Zone: Holiday cheer

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orlando, FL

Sigh. I'm not sure what is working with this team any longer. Aside from a couple of position coaches, perhaps a clean sweep is truly in order.

This was a common refrain in the inbox Sunday evening, and it leads to the most common question among Jaguars observers these days: What will happen with General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone at season's end? I'm understandably getting similar questions about defensive coordinator Todd Wash and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. While Jaguars Owner Shad Khan relieved Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin of his duties Wednesday, multiple reliable reports are that Khan would prefer to retain Caldwell/Marrone. I get the same feeling, and I wouldn't be surprised if that's what is announced sometime after next Sunday's regular-season finale. I'm less certain about the coordinators because that's a second level and the first level must get decided first. I agree with many observers and fans that it's hard to imagine significant changes not happening considering the results of the second half of the season. Coughlin's dismissal represent change. Is it significant enough, or is there more? Stay tuned.

Jorge from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Just wanna say for how pathetic and out of sync the offense has been in the second half of the season due to numerous reasons, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette has played his ass off and hasn't gotten the credit he deserves. I highly doubt any other back in the league could have had his production under these circumstances. His low touchdown count is a black eye for coaches that couldn't find a way to get him into the end zone more often. One fer Lenny.

So, one fer Fournette – and not fer the coaches.

Josh from Pensacola, FL

Should the Jags focus on offensive line and spend the first two picks on the position?

The Jaguars should focus on offensive and interior defensive line until both areas improve dramatically. If there is a can't-miss, franchise-level player at another position when they select, they should consider that player. If not, they should build the lines.

Jason from Salem, OR

Well, here's to a better 2020-2021 season for the Jags. I am sure there will be a lot for Shad Khan to figure out from now until then. Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! For all your damage control from all the O-Zone writers, Santa should give you an extra special gift!


Mike from Atlanta, GA

Gardner Minshew II has some major fundamental deficiencies. He has problems with pocket awareness, can't keep his eyes downfield, and gets caught dancing around the pocket while receivers get uncovered. He relies on the play breaking down and the field turning into sandlot football so he can peel off and throw downfield to a receiver who has broken off his route and found an open space. That isn't a recipe for long-term success in the NFL. It looks like it isn't even a recipe for short-term success seeing that bad teams have developed a way to keep him in the pocket, collapse it and let him dance into the arms of defensive lineman. He would need to learn how to climb the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. As a quarterback you can't rely on chaos to succeed, not in the NFL anyway. Seems like he needs to relearn how to play the position and I think that expecting he does that successfully is a huge risk.

Those are the concerns about Minshew. They're real. They have shown up in a big way in his last four or so starts. He also isn't getting nearly enough help from receivers or offensive line, which makes drawing conclusions tricky.

Scott from Wichita, KS

I get both sides of the argument, but do you think bringing back Marrone and Caldwell would put unrealistic expectations on them for one year? Getting to the playoffs next year seems a bit much with this roster. Then we'll be discussing this all over again.

The expectations that matter here are Khan's, and we won't know his expectations – or his thoughts on the state of the team – until he addresses them publicly in some way. Would the return of Caldwell and Marrone return come with a mandate for next season, implied or otherwise? Does Khan believe some rebuilding is needed? My first thought is we're probably back to a point where we need to see improvement and progress next season before a postseason run is realistic; the second half of the season has been that bad at times. The defense would seem to need too many pieces to think it will reach playoff status next season, and the offense has had fundamental struggles as well. But times can change fast in the NFL and teams are often not as far from competitiveness as they appear. Maybe that's the case with the Jaguars. Stranger things have happened.

Pope from Apparently Shamesville

OK. So, I'm not asking for a prediction; I'm asking for advice. Let's say Shad makes his call for quarterback and it's ... whatever. Who are you drafting first: offensive or defensive line?

If it's me, I'm drafting whatever can get the run stopped. If you can't stop the run, you can't win in the NFL. Period. The Jaguars have a lot of issues, but that's No. 1.

Jerell from Columbia, SC

Tell me again why Shad would consider keep Doug and Dave again? This team needs a complete reboot. And a quarterback. Gardner is a backup at best and Nick Foles is a preacher.

Jerell's back.

Mike from Section 132

Who is going to make the decisions on draft picks and free agents for the defense? The first question to ask is let me see the film with them tackling in correct form and the ability to put the offensive player on the ground. Will any of the current defender's job security be decided on their ability to really tackle someone?

We don't know who will be making decisions yet. Whoever it is, I don't doubt that most – if not all personnel – will be evaluated fully.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

A lot of talk about the upside of Jawaan Taylor, but it seems once a week he gets beat pretty badly for a big play, and he leads the league in holding penalties. I feel like we've been down this road before with a young Cam Robinson. Is it just the eye test that has you convinced that Taylor is for real? It's tough to focus on a right tackle while watching.

It's the eye test, and it's listening to people I respect talk about Taylor. He's young. He's making mistakes of youth. I've heard no one doubt that he will be very good. When Robinson was a rookie, there were questions in this area – ones he's still answering.

Mark from Daphne, AL

Backup quarterbacks don't lead teams like this to 5-5 records while making highlight reel plays and setting records along the way. I wish our fan base was smarter, John. Draft-position bias.

Your point regarding Minshew is a good one. He has won five games. There also plenty of points to make in the other direction, with Minshew having really struggled in some significant games – and still struggling against certain defensive looks. I hope Minshew is the real deal. I hope he's the Jaguars' starting quarterback moving forward, but to think that's a done deal is simply incorrect.

Seth from Ponte Vedra, FL

John. Shouldn't the Jags have a system set up where the inappropriate fines issued by Coughlin were red-flagged? How can so many fines get issued without someone saying, "Hey Tom you can't do that."

LOL. Sure.

Mr. NFL from Jacksonville

It must not take much to impress you and Coughlin-loving Sexton. How can you possibly defend this style of offense? Grandpa set this franchise back to the 1960s. Can't wait to see you and Sexton's "expert" analysis of this game. How much practice do you two need to describe and write about three-yard gains? Two meatheads.

I do not recall being or saying I was impressed with the Jaguars' offense this season. But you apparently are obsessed with reading my column. Perhaps you remember. Also, I've been covering sports for three decades and covering the NFL for nearly 25 years. I don't do this for practice.

Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA

O-man, I better get in on this while I have a chance. On the one hand, Khan keeps Doug and Dave, I won't buy season tickets. On the other hand, if Khan fires Doug and Dave, I won't buy season ticket. On the one foot, if Khan keeps one and fires the other (either way), I won't buy season tickets. On the other foot, if I lived in Jacksonville, it wouldn't matter; I'd buy season tickets regardless.


Jags Fan 818 from Jacksonville

Merry Christmas!

Is it?